Fort Campbell, KY – Members of the media and the public are invited to attend the 34th Anniversary Gander Memorial remembrance ceremony, Thursday, December 12th, 2019 at Fort Campbell. This will be the first ceremony held at the recently relocated memorial.
The memorial consists of two monuments and 256 Canadian sugar maple trees. It was built to honor the memory of the 248 Soldiers and eight crew members who lost their lives when Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed in Gander, Newfoundland, shortly after takeoff on the morning of December 12th, 1985.
The Soldiers, primarily assigned to 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, were returning from a six-month peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula.
“The new Gander Memorial is a living monument to the fallen Soldiers of Task Force 3-502 and stands as a testament to the continued dedication of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to honoring those Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation,” said Maj. Kevin Andersen, spokesman for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “The Gander tragedy remains the single largest loss of life in the history of this storied division. The Fort Campbell community will continue to come together each year on this day to honor and remember the sacrifice of these Soldiers, their Families and their comrades in arms.”
The original memorial, also on Fort Campbell, was relocated in 2019 after the trees’ root systems began growing together, raising concerns about the long-term future of the memorial. This prompted the decision to relocate the monuments to the new site. Eight of the original trees were transplanted, and the remaining trees were removed, with local woodworkers volunteering to craft gifts for Families of the fallen Soldiers.
The original memorial was conceived by Mrs. Janice Johnston Nikkel, a then-15-year-old Canadian citizen. Johnston Nikkel pledged money she earned from babysitting to the creation of the original tree park, inspiring others to contribute. She will return to Fort Campbell to help dedicate the new memorial.
The ceremony is scheduled for December 12th at 10:00am.